Back in Toronto, and a few recipes

Temperature: 1° C (feels like -5)

Distance run/type: 6 hill repeats (plus 6k LSD warm up and cool down) / hill training

Clothes: Lululemon running pants, sports bra, Adidas base layer, Adidas top layer, Adidas outer layer, Asics TrailRunners.

Feeling: Really cold at first, especially when I had to wait almost 10 minutes for my Garmin to pick up signal, but then I had to take off a layer by the time I got to the bottom of the hill.

♦♦♦

Today has been quite a blur as well. I’ll attempt to recap as best as I can, but I make no promises on accuracy. As a peace offering, I’m throwing in some old recipes of things that I’ve made in the last few weeks that I thought were worth sharing.

After I got home from the airport, I worked for a couple of hours and then passed out from 10am – 2pm. I haven’t had a nap/mid-day sleep in as long as I can remember, but I really needed the sleep. I woke up feeling really groggy and it was a real struggle to finally get back to work. Lunch and dinner today were virtually the same; leftover grilled chicken breast mixed with a salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, carrots, and apple. I threw in some fat-free italian salad dressing as well, and voila: a nice, satisfying light meal to counter 3-4 days of “whatever’s available” food. At lunch, I also heated up a leftover pumpernickel dinner roll and threw in some slices of aged cheddar cheese (I couldn’t help it!). I took pictures using my camera’s internal memory by accident so pictures may show up much later when I figure out where my camera cable is (I normally use a memory card reader).

After work, I decided that I felt well enough to make up for the hills training that I missed last night. I decided to run to an old hill area that I trained off of throughout the winter and was delighted to discover the hill to be too easy. I ended up switching to a harder hill – one that I was intimidated by after one particularly challenging hills training session that I did on it and was also happy to see that it was much easier than I was expecting. I’m not sure if this was due to the fact that my fitness levels are actually higher, or if the weather was more mild than it was last time I ran up that hill which made the hill easier to run up. I guess it doesn’t really matter, but I did feel like I almost cheated during my run and briefly considered running a few extra hill repeats but the sun had set by the time I finished 6 and it started getting really cold.

And now for a few recipes to whet your appetite.

Sweet Sweet Potato Falafels (original recipe from here)
Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes (orange inside), around 700g or 1 1/2 pounds in total
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro/coriander, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
a scant cup chickpea flour
a sprinkling of sesame seeds
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees (220C) and roast the sweet potatoes whole until just tender – 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on size). Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel.

2. Put the sweet potatoes, cumin, garlic, ground and fresh coriander, lemon juice and chickpea flour into a large bowl. Season well, and mash until smooth with no large chunks. Stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary (the water content of sweet potatoes varies enormously).


3. Reheat the oven to 400F/200C. Make falafel balls and bake on a lined baking tray for around 15 minutes.

Notes:

  • The original recipe suggests using sesame seeds and although I think they would have been an excellent addition, I didn’t have any sesame seeds on hand. Next time I make these (yes, there will be a next time!), I am going to make sure I have sesame seeds on hand so that I can throw them in.

Dill Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1.5 cups water
  • turmeric (I don’t measure this, but if I had to guess, I might say 1/2 tsp or so)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • dried dill weed (throw in as much as your heart desires – I would guess I put in 1.5 tsp or so)

Mix contents together and cook as you would normally cook rice (I use a rice cooker). It’s as simple as that!

Millet Mash (original recipe from here)
Ingredients:
1 cup millet
3 cups water
1 medium onion
1 small head cauliflower
2 Tbsp flax seed oil
2-3 cloves garlic
Salt

Directions:
1. Rinse millet well by covering with water and swishing it around, then draining. Do this 2-4 times until the water runs clear.

2. Chop cauliflower and onion into chunks.

3. Put rinsed millet and water in a large pot and cover with chopped vegetables and salt. Bring to a rapid boil, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and the millet is cooked.

4. Remove from heat, add flax seed oil, and mash with a large fork or potato masher.

Notes:

  • I personally thought it was delicious on its own, but after a while, I started adding in some hot sauce to kick it up a bit and it was delicious!!

Calgary for a day – and the black bean burger that I will never forget

Temperature: 0 degrees C (feels like -4)

Distance run/type: 6k (approx. 3.7 miles) / tempo

Clothes: Lululemon running pants, Lululemon sport tank top, Adidas top layer, Adidas coat, Asics TrailRunners.

Feeling: Really cold at first, but then I felt overdressed after I warmed up. It also took me almost 3k to warm up. But after that I was fine.

♦♦♦

Since I joined the latest running clinic a month in because I was busy finishing up my training for the Chilly Half, I have been really hesitant to miss any training runs because I don’t want to fall more behind than I already am. When I realized that I would be travelling most of this week and working evenings, I knew that I had to find a way to integrate my training runs into my schedule otherwise I’d miss them all.

So this morning I woke up at 6:30 and had my regular Kashi mixed cereal almost immediately to allow me to digest it. I briefly toyed with the idea of eating something really small, and having the cereal when I got back, but I didn’t want to risk running on empty. I find that I’m pretty useless unless I put something in my body before I train at the gym, or go for any type of run.

Anyway, so after I allowed my food to digest, I got dressed and went for a 6k tempo run before I could change my mind (in which case, I would have woken up 2.5 hours early for nothing). Unexpectedly, the run was felt really difficult. I felt like I was really out of breath for almost 3k, and started to wonder if I was overtired, or something, but I think I just needed to warm up, because after I turned around, I finished my run really strongly and could have probably continued running a few extra kms at a faster pace if I didn’t have to get ready to head to the airport. I actually ended up feeling a little overdressed in the end – I find it really difficult to know how to dress on cold days. My hope is that by logging the temperature that it was for that day, what I was wearing, and how I felt, will eventually help me get a better idea of how my body reacts to the temperature outside when I’m running in it, and I’ll know what to wear next time!

The rest of the day kind of passed by in a blur. I managed to get some work done on the plane to Calgary, which was great. I also snacked on a Sweet & Salty granola bar that my coworker was kind enough to give me (which are my new favourite granola bars… SO delicious!) and a handful of PC waffle multigrain pretzels that I had packed specifically for the flight. Food on the plane was really expensive, so the only thing I ate on it was the compliementary bag of bits and bites.

When we arrived in Calgary, we headed straight to the facility. I hadn’t really eaten a proper meal since breakfast, so after settling down, my coworker and I went in search of a place to have a quick lunch/dinner. We were both pretty hungry, so we decided to eat at closest restaurant to the facility we were working out of called Cafe Koi. Everything on the menu looked delicious, but when I looked at the menu, the Buddha Burger sounded really interesting so I decided to get that. Boy, am I glad that I did. It was hands down _THE BEST_ black bean burger I’ve ever had. Before I had tried that black bean burger, I used to think the ones I made on my own were pretty damn tasty. It wasn’t just the patty, it was the herb cream cheese, the soft white pita bread, the beets, the greens.. and the delicious salad with dried cranberries and asian slaw (with NO mayo – hurray!) that accompanied it. Now I have seen the light and a real meat burger may never satisfy me again. I was really tempted to order another one for “dinner” since I was flying back to Toronto on the red eye and knew that I wouldn’t have another chance to go back to Cafe Koi. However, I was much too full to eat another one (my brain and eyes always have a bigger appetite than my stomach!). All was not lost though, because I also grabbed a slice of sour cream coffee cake from them that looked too good to pass up. I can’t remember the last time I had coffee cake, but I have to say that this was one of the best coffee cakes I’ve ever had. It was incredibly moist, full of flavour (I think there was banana in it!) and it had a delicious cinnamon and brown sugar crumble on top. Incredible. I have always wanted to go to Calgary, and since I didn’t get a chance to really see the city, I am going to have to go back – and when I do, I’ll be frequenting Cafe Koi as often as possible to try their other menu items.

As if I hadn’t indulged myself enough over the past few days with all of the rich foods and delicious desserts that I normally stop myself from eating, I also picked up a multi-grain bagel toasted with butter and two slices of cheddar cheese for the plane ride back to Toronto. Oh my goodness, I had forgotten how much I loved butter and cheese together on a bagel. There are many ways to enjoy a toasted bagel, but this has always been one of my favourites.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and I’m back in Toronto and must get back on track with eating my normal foods and resuming my regular exercising routine. Except, now that I’ve realized how much my body craves sweets, I might indulge a little and experiment with some sour cream coffee cakes of my own this weekend.

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